This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores the jazz standard by Rodgers and Hart, "Blue Moon". Discover, learn, and play essential voicings, chord/scale relationships, and a jazz piano solo!
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play a 1934 jazz standard by Rodgers and Hart, "Blue Moon". In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
Jazz standard by Rodgers and Hart, Blue Moon (1934)
Essential jazz piano voicings and chord/scale relationships for Blue Moon
A jazz piano solo for Blue Moon using classic jazz language
For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while you discover, learn, and play Blue Moon.
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Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:33
Welcome to jazz pm skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. The last two weeks we have hit it hard with a key of E flat major harmonic workout and a key of E flat major melodic workout. Now our harmonic workout, as always explored four different approaches to voicing the chords found in the key of E flat major, plus various rhythmic comping patterns, and our melodic workout methodically tackled the scales, the modes, the arpeggios, for each of the chords in the key of E flat major plus various linear lines to help you develop improvisational vocabulary. As I like to say our workouts require a ton of work. But as is always the case, when you practice correctly, the proper skills, the proper approaches, the payoff is always huge, always significant. And how do we measure our gains? Well, as you know, our growth is always assessed by our ability to successfully apply our new jazz piano skills to a tune. And that is exactly what we're going to do today. So today, you're going to discover a classic jazz standard from 1934 written by Rodgers and Hart Blue Moon, you're going to learn the chord changes the harmonic function, and the musical form of Blue Moon. And you're going to play various voicings and the correct chord scale relationships for Blue Moon, which will then be cultivated into a jazz soul. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, that beginner an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you consider yourself to be a seasoned and experienced professional, you are going to find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring Rodgers and Hart's jazz standard blue moon to be very beneficial. But before we jump in, I want to take a moment as I always do at the beginning of every jazz panel skills podcast episode two welcome all first-time listeners. If you are in deeding new listeners jazz panel skills new to jazz panel skills podcast.
I want to personally invite you to become a jazz panel skills member, simply visit jazz panel skills.com. To learn more about all of the jazz educational resources, the materials, and the services that are available for you to help you develop along your journey to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to all of the educational podcast packets these are the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs that I develop and make available for you to download and access for every single weekly podcast episode. These are invaluable tools that you want to have in your hands as you listen to the podcast episode. And you also want to have sitting on your piano as you practice as well. You also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks to enjoy interactive media video demonstrations in all 12 keys play alongs and much more. Also, in addition to the podcast packets and the curriculum you have access to the online weekly masterclasses, as I like to say a reserved seat which these masterclasses are in essence a one-hour online lesson with me each and every week. You also as a jazz panel skills member have excellent access to the online interactive Fakebook. Now, this has access to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook. You can enjoy the lead sheets outlining the chord changes or lead sheets outlining harmonic function of each tune the chord scale relation chips, play along files, historical insights, inspirational recordings, and much more. Now the interactive Fakebook is an ever-growing collection of tunes that you should absolutely study and you should absolutely learn. Now you also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, course-specific forums, and of course, just general jazz piano forums as well. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Just visit jazz piano skills.com Take a few minutes to check it out. Check out all the educational opportunities that await you and how you can easily activate your membership. There are various membership plans to choose from and are certain there is one that is perfect for you. However, if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am always happy to spend some time with you answer any questions that you have and help in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover learning play jazz piano let's
discover learn and play the great 1934 jazz standard by Rodgers and Hart Blue Moon. Okay, as I mentioned earlier, the last two weeks have been pretty intense with our key of E flat major harmonic workout and our key of E flat major melodic workout. As always, our harmonic workout was an extensive exploration of four very specific approaches to plain sound harmonically to plain chords. And our exploration was simply not about playing the seven chords of the key of E flat major. It was about how to approach voicing the chords so that you are playing sounds that are stylistically correct, you are playing sounds that sound like jabs. So we looked at four basic approaches to voicing chords, the basic block shapes, and root position and their three inversions. We looked at the traditional left-hand three notes shell voicings, we looked at contemporary quarter voicings, and of course, we looked at the two-handed shapes as well, all of them, all of them need to be in your arsenal under your fingers. Our melodic workout was a thorough investigation of ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion through each of the seven chords of the key of E flat major. Our primary focus was to begin developing what I always like to call root independence by shifting our entry points of our scales and arpeggios from the root of the sound to the third, the fifth, and the seventh. And needless to say, if you have never intentionally played scales and arpeggios vary in your entry and destination points, then these melodic workouts can be quite challenging. So the whole point of our key of E flat major harmonic workout and our key of E flat major melodic workout. The whole point is to prep us for applying our skills to tunes. So we are going to take the practice approaches we have explored over the past two weeks and apply them to Blue Moon. And not only are we going to put our harmonic and melodic jazz panel skills to work with any jazz standard, but we are also going to use our jazz piano skills to construct as we did in the key of C major and the key of F major in the key of B flat major.
A jazz piano solo over the chord changes of the two. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we are going to explore the jazz standard blue moon the chord changes, and harmonic function. Number two we are going to discover learn and play various voicings for blue moon blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed shapes. Number three, we are going to discover learning play the chord scale relationships for bloom mode. In other words, the appropriate ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Number four, we're going to discover, learn and play a jazz piano solo for Blue Moon, which will be 100% diatonic scale and arpeggio motion using whole half, quarter, and eighth note values. And number five, we are going to be using a standard ballad tempo today of 80. Now if you are a jazz panel skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now hit the pause button. I want you to download and print your podcast packets, your illustrations, and your lead sheets. Again, you have access to all of the podcasts packets, and again, you should be using them when listening to this podcast episode. And of course when practicing now if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora on and on and on, then be sure to go directly to jazz piano skills podcast.com jazz piano skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets, you will find the active download links for your podcast packets in the show notes. Okay. And one final but extremely important note that I include in every podcast episode if you are thinking that Blue Moon and the various skills that we are about to discover, learn and play. If you're thinking that these skills are in some way, or even if you think they are all the way over your head, then I would say to you okay, sit back, relax, chill out. Continue to listen and continue to grow your jazz panel skills intellectually by simply listening to this podcast episode. And again, all scales keep in mind all skills are over our heads when they are first introduced. And that is precisely why really the first step in our journey for musical growth. Always Our first step is listening. If we really want to improve our musicianship, the first step is to simply listen. So do not shy away from these conversations. Discussing foreign topics or using unfamiliar terms, right, stepping outside of our musical comfort zone, always spawn significant growth. Right? You've heard me say it a million times, all musical growth begins upstairs mentally conceptually before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast episode lesson now to discover and to learn, the play will come in time. It always does. Okay, you should have in your hands now. Your lead sheets packet, which contains 11 lead sheets. Okay. So we're going to start with lead sheet number one skill one, the chord changes for Blue Moon. Now, if you look there at your lead sheet, you'll see for rehearsal letters A, B, C, and D. These are our eight-measure sections of the tune. And Blue Moon is what we call an A A B A form.
So don't let those rehearsal letters don't confuse the rehearsal letters with musical form. Okay, the musical form of Blue Moon is what we call a A A B A, which means rehearsal letter a rehearsal letter B and rehearsal letter D. Share basically the same chord motion, the same chord movement, letter C, rehearsal letter C. That is our bridge. But each of these sections eight measures in length. So, Blue Moon, is a classic A be a form for sections, eight measures each the entire tune 32 measures but in reality, the entire tune really is like 16 measures because you have three A's sections and you have a B Section A A B A. So skill one lead sheet one simply has the harmonic changes the core changes for blue movement now look at lead sheet number two, skill two. This is where now that chord changes are turned into Roman numerals or what week Call harmonic function. This is what I like to call the DNA, the harmonic DNA a of the piece. This is what makes Blue Moon Blue Moon. And you can see right from the get-go right, some pretty standard circle motion, we have a one chord, go into a six chord go into to go into a five, that repeats 1625, then we have a flat seven dominant, going to a six, seven, right? Nice chromatic motion, taking us back to our two to our five core to our one chord. And so on the bridge section, letter C, rehearsal letter C, starts with the 251, more circle motion, right classic circle motion, and then we have circle motion that slides outside of the key to with the second half of, of the, of the bridge. So what is nice about the heart having this lead sheet in front of you this harmonic being a is this really gets to the core of the tune the true essence of the song. And if you study and you learn the song, based on the Roman numerals, the harmonic function number one, you're doing a great favor for your ears because you're actually conditioning your ears to hear these relationships, one to six to two to five. This means this will mean something to you, not just conceptually but orally as well. And when you know attune using a harmonic blueprint like this harmonic DNA blueprint, it allows you to easily move the tune to various keys. Right. So if we really want to know balloon, Blue Moon steady lead sheet to Okay, so now let's turn our attention to lead sheet number three, skill three. Here's where I play the block voicings for Blue Moon and we have the map out here I have the map out on your lead sheet. Now I have them mapped out in bass clef because you're gonna play the melody in your right hand, right and you're playing the chord changes in your left hand. Now, a couple things I want to point out all of the chords that have altered sounds, there is a D flat seven sharp 11 sound that we're dealing with in blue moon, there's a C seven Foley altered sound that we have in Blue Moon, these four-note block voicings are not intended to handle
the altered sounds. So you will see that I have that notated on the lead sheet, where these chords with alterations appear within the chord progression. So just play them as a straight four-note block voicing root third, five, seven. You'll also see on your lead sheet how I'm utilizing inversions to get from one chord to the next quarter next quarter using minimal motion. So what I want to do is I want to bring the ensemble in right now. I'm going to play through Blue Moon two times the first time I'm going to play the block voicings just as notated on your lead sheet, I'm not going to do anything rhythmically, rhythmically with these voicings, I'm playing them straight, just as notated on the voice on the lead sheet. The second time through I will add the melody and I'm not going to do anything fancy with the melody either. I'm just simply going to state the melody with these voicings because I want you to be able to hear the relationship, how the voicings and the melody work together. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble, and let's listen to Blue Moon using block voicings in the left hand. melody in the right hand. Okay, here we go. Check it out.
Pretty nice right? You know, this is typically you learning your block voicings is typically the first step and learning how to play jazz piano. And these are legitimate voicings right these need to be in your arsenal. So, do not think of this. Do not think of block voicings as being kind of a remedial voicing because they're not. And as you can tell, as you heard, they sound lovely, they're nice, and you placed the melody over the top of the top of those black voicings and sounds fantastic. I did many. As I mentioned before, in previous podcasts, I did many many gigs. Where this was exactly how I played I knew I knew no other voicings other than these block voicings. So if this is where you are fantastic, focus on these voicings, get them under your hands so that you can play melody in relationship to these voicings and you will be able to play a lot of music. Okay, so now let's look at lead sheet number four or skill four. We're going to take the same approach however, this time I'm going to use the traditional shells I'm using 379 and 735 voicings in my left hand. And once again, I haven't notated on your lead sheet using these voicings alternating between these voicing types of shapes of 379 and 735. And again, I have some of these chords I have marked indicating that you're going to play them as a two-note voicings. So you're going to leave off the top note, especially when playing the melody so there's not a conflict between the two hands so the two hands play nicely with one another. So once again, I'm going to play through Blue Moon the first time through and I'm going to play these traditional shell voicings, 379 and 735 shapes and I'm going to do nothing fancy rhythmically. I'm simply going to play the voicings, the second time through I will play the melody on top of these voicings and once again so you can hear the relationship between the voicings and the melody. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble in, and let's check out Blue Moon using traditional shell voicings and melody here we go check it
out. Fantastic right! A great sound, classic traditional jazz sound. Now, I do want to make a point that today I'm, I'm demonstrating I'm using for voicing types when plain blue moon. We've already looked at the blocks. We've already looked at the traditional shells we're about to look at the contemporary shells and then the two-handed shapes. And when demonstrating the these voicings, of course, I'm just staying within I'm keeping things real tidy, right? I'm staying, I'm staying just with those voicing structures. However, in reality, right, jazz pianist, interchange these voicings within the context of a tone. So to learn them, I would say to you, yes, keep things tidy when studying and practicing a specific voicing type. But the reality is that once you have a command of these various voicing types, you will interchange them with ease as you play a tune and based upon what your ear is telling you, right. So I just wanted to make that point. So now, let's look at lead sheet number five, our contemporary shells. And as you can tell, when just looking at this lead sheet, right, these voicings inter validly all look the same. In other words, the notes are using primarily the interval of a fourth. And once again, some of these voicings, I play as a two-note shape again, so the melody and the voicings work nicely together and those are marked here on your lead sheet. So pay attention to that as well. So, let's bring the ensemble and I'm going to use the exact same format that I did with the blocks and the traditional shells and that I'm going to play Blue Moon two times first time through just these contemporary shell voicings and the second time through I will add the melody and again, not doing anything fancy. I'm trying to keep things very clean so you can hear these way scenes with the melody and how they work and sound together. So here we go let's bring the ensemble and let's check out Blue Moon using contemporary shell voicings in the left hand and then melody on the second course in the right hand here we go.
Fantastic absolutely love that sound. So okay, so now we've looked at our blocks, we've looked at our traditional shells, we've looked at our contemporary shells Now, pull out lead sheet number six, skill six. And here is where we get into our two-handed shapes. And once again, you'll notice by looking at the lead sheet, I use five-note voicing structures two in the left three in the right, whenever I play my two-handed shapes, and everything looks pretty straightforward on this lead sheet, I do want to draw your attention to the D flat seven sharp 11. I'm using a poly Chord Voicing to handle that sharp 11. So I have a triad in my right hand with my third and seventh in the left hand on my D flat seven sharp elevens. Other than that everything is very choral based, again built on the interval of a fourth very contemporary sound. So what I want to do is I want to bring the ensemble in that same format again, I'm gonna play it through twice Blue Moon. First time voicings only as written on the lead sheet, nothing fancy. Second time through I am going to play the melody but I'm going to use a muted trumpet sound. So you can hear these voicings, comping or playing behind an instrumentalist. One That's a trumpet or sax player or vocalist or whoever right so let's bring the ensemble in first time through two-handed shapes second time through melody added using muted trumpet so let's check it out here we go.
Love it absolutely love it now, once again, I just want to say that when you're practicing these voicings voicing types, these various types are blocks, traditional shells, contemporary shells, two-handed shapes. Practice them keep things tidy, keep things clean, just as I demonstrated in modeled here today, right. So if I'm playing block voicings, keep everything a block voicing, if you're playing traditional shells, keep everything in traditional shell, and so on. This is how you're going to digest these shapes, the most efficient and effective way and just know that you will then be interchanging them and using them all. Eventually when playing. Now, look at lead sheets 789 and 10, scale 789 and 10. These are our ascending and descending scale motions from the root ascending and descending arpeggio motion from the root. Now on the scale motion, I don't have time to play through all these today, but I just want to talk through them real quick. On the scales, I have all the mode, the chord scale relationships so I have the modes, the various modes, and the scale choices that I use when improvising over the chord changes for Blue Moon. When I'm playing my scales, I like to again practice ascending and descending from various entry points the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh. I have modeled for you here in the lead sheets, everything notated from the root. But do the same thing from the third from the fifth and from the seventh as well. I utilize the exact same approach with my arpeggio practice. I'll practice ascending and descending from the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh of the sound. And again, I haven't notated and laid out for you here, scale nine and scale 10, your ascending and descending arpeggio motion. So even though I'm not going to play through those today, study those and play those chord scale relationships and those arpeggios as notated. And of course, if you have any questions, just let me know, send me an email, a SpeakPipe, or give me a call. Either way, so if you have any questions, just let me know. Okay, so now let's look at skill 11 lead sheet 11. As you can see, this is a solo over the progression for Blue Moon. Okay. And couple things I've mentioned it earlier in the podcast that this solo number one uses 100% diatonic motion diatonic notes of the key of E flat major, so we have not gotten into any notes outside of the key with any of our workouts, everything to this point, as we're moving through the year, we will eventually get to our approach tones and notes that fall outside the outside the key when improvising but for right now everything is diatonic 100%. Likewise, everything is in this solo. As you can see, quarter notes, half notes, eighth notes, eighth note groupings, single eighth notes, dropped solo and that is it. So again, 100% diatonic or movement within the key of E flat, and our rhythms are sticking to whole half, quarter and eights. And even with that, I think you're gonna find the solo to be great fun, and sounds fantastic. So when you study this solo, pay attention throughout the soul just like you would do in any transcription. Pay attention to where scale motion is being utilized, arpeggio motion is being utilized. Pay attention to how altered sounds are being handled. Also pay attention to articulation, and feel. And in doing so, find ideas that you are drawn to, you can extract those ideas and practice those ideas and use them as springboards or launching pads to your own vocabulary, the discovery of your own musical ideas. So what I want to do is I want to bring the ensemble back and I'm going to play through Blue Moon. I'm going to play through three times. I'm going to play the head, I'm going to play the solo and then I will play the head again. So typical classical jazz format when playing in an ensemble setting. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's listen to Blue Moon and let's check out this solo. Here we go. Let's have some fun
Well, never fails. We always unpack a ton of information. And each and every podcast episode and today was certainly no exception. As we set out to discover, learn and play Blue Moon, as I tried to do with every tune study that we do I want to model for you how to begin truly learning a tone harmonically and melodically how to connect what and how you are practicing to an actual piece of music. In other words, how do the jazz piano skills you are practicing translate to real playing. And of course, I'm seeing real playing with air quotes right in my tongue in my cheek because a real plane is actually having a command of jazz piano skills, which in turn, allows you to eventually add a melody. And once we add a melody to our jazz panel skills, we give it a name, like blue moon. We call it a two and now everyone's happy, right? You're happy because you're playing a tune your listeners are happy because you're playing a tune I want you to think about this. I've mentioned this before, if you are able to apply your practice approach to the learning of tunes like we did today, I would say that you need to seriously examine the what, why, and how of your practicing. Another way of saying this is, if in the tunes you are playing, you do not see the jazz piano skills you are practicing, then you have a disconnect between the two, which is not good. And you've heard me say this many times on many different occasions that harmony and melody are one and the same. And indeed they are. I can also say that jazz piano skills and tunes are one and the same as well. And what I am saying is that, again, if you do not practice jazz piano skills, then you will not be able to successfully play tunes. And hopefully, you're beginning to see that jazz piano skills are tunes and tunes are jazz piano skills. The only difference one has a name, like Blue Moon, and one does not. Right, if you are beginning to see the jazz piano skills as tunes if you're seeing the jazz piano skills, if you're practicing in the tunes, and you're actually seeing tunes in the jazz piano skills that your practice, then you are on the right track, you are on the correct path. I said this in previous podcast episodes since the start of the new year. And I want to stress it again today if you if you hang in there with me this year as we move through all the keys. And we continue to ratchet up our improvisation and our rhythmic understanding both from a comping and melodic perspective. If you hang in there with me as we journey through this year, you're going to experience a ton of jazz piano growth, and you will love where you are musically. A year from now I guarantee it. Once again, I want to encourage you to use the podcast packets, the illustrations that we walk through today, the pot the lead sheets, the illustrations are fabulous tons of worksheets in there for you to utilize to help you get a conceptual command of the skills. And as you've heard me say over and over again. Conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So use the illustrations use the lead sheets invest time and studying and mapping out the voicings and your ascending descending scale and arpeggio motion from various entry points. This is time very well spent and the return on your best investment simply cannot be adequately expressed. And as always Be patient. Developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time. Begin structuring your practice after the demonstrations that I modeled for you in this podcast episode. And you will begin to see feel and hear your progress. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring Blue Moon to be insightful and of course to be very beneficial. And don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring Blue Moon in greater detail and of course to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Be sure to use the educational podcast packets, your illustrations, your lead sheets, play alongs for this podcast lesson, and be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Also, make sure that you're an active participant in the jazz piano skills community.
He's got a whole new look, I love it. Get out there, get involved, contribute to the various forums and make some new jazz piano friends always, always a great thing to do. You can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 Or by email Dr. Lawrence that's firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a SpeakPipe handy little nifty little widget found throughout the jazz panel Skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the classic jazz standard blues. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano